In Myanmar, 1 in 20 children die before reaching their fifth birthday, with diarrhoea a leading causes of death (Source: Demographic and Health Survey). Women and Children First is empowering local communities to reduce this risk by building new toilet facilities.
Diarrhoea is often life-threatening when children become dehydrated because of lack of clean drinking water or medicine such as hydration salts.
In the remote Lahtaw Hkra Pra, the illness is a huge issue for the community.
Women and Children First, in partnership with Health Poverty Action, set up a Women’s Community Health Group in the village.
The group brought together community members and the influential Village Health Committee. Together, they discussed why diarrhoea cases were so high and to find ways to reduce them.
The group found that lack of sanitary latrines (sheltered, outside toilets), low awareness of the importance of environmental and personal hygiene, and poor hygiene practice were the main reasons for these cases.
The Women’s Health Group shared the problems discussed with the whole village and then set out to find ways to address them. They then worked together to:
Teach parents the importance of hygiene and sanitation in preventing diarrhoea
Promote personal hygiene among young children, including washing hands, brushing teeth, and using latrines
Build pit latrines for every household in the village that did not have one
The Women’s Community Health Group recruited male villagers to help with the construction, who were paid with the Community Health Group’s fund. This fund was also enough to pay for cement, iron roofing and pillars for the latrines.
Our Women’s Community Health Group Leader, Labya Lu Htoi, says:
“I have been working as the community volunteers for many years, but I did not expect the group to bring such huge changes in our village. I hope fewer people especially children will suffer from diarrhoea in the future.”
Many of the latrines have now been built, improving sanitation and hygiene in the area, and reducing the risk of diarrhoea.
According to the World Health Organisation, improved sanitation practises, including latrines, can reduce diarrhoea from 88% to 32%.
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